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According to a scientist from the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia's top scientific body, cannibalism amongst the polar bears is on the rise. The top two factors responsible in their drastic change in pattern are increased human activity and diminished hunting grounds.
Though this isn't the first time cannibalism has been reported in polar bears, Ilya Mordvintsev, a senior researcher with the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution said that there has been a significant increase in the number of cases.
Cases of cannibalism among polar bears are a long-established fact, but such cases used to be found rarely while now they are recorded quite often. We state that cannibalism in polar bears is increasing.
- Ilya Mordvintsev
Ilya shared that there are two significant causes for this. One being insufficient nutrition, which is forcing large males to prey on females and their cubs. And the second being an increase in the number of people in the Arctic, which means a larger number of cases may be getting reported.
However, he stressed on the increase in human activity in the Arctic which has "seriously" impacted the lives of polar bears. He added that the development in the Gulf of Ob and the passage from there to the Barents Sea, which has become a more popular route for ships carrying liquefied natural gas is making this situation worse. Since it disrupts the lifestyle of these animals.
The Gulf of Ob was known to be a hunting ground for the animals but now it has broken ice all-year round, which has it difficult for the polar bears to hunt seals. This has lead to insufficient nutrition being available for them, forcing them into cannibalism.